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Idea is too costly

Published 10:25am Thursday, December 27, 2012

That political opportunists of various persuasions would seek to write their manifestos in the blood of butchered teachers and children is to be expected. This is an indicator of the vulgarity and mean-spiritedness that passes for public discourse in this country. In the jargon of American politics, this is called “firing up the base” or “fundraising.”

But, unexpected, perhaps, was the grotesque response to the Connecticut shootings by NRA flack Wayne LaPierre. According to the NRA, inexplicable, and therefore unavoidable, tragedies of this sort might best be avoided by installing pistol-packing police officers in every school. Setting aside the problematic logic of combating gun violence by inserting more guns into society, let’s consider the fiscal implications of this proposal. According to Bureau of Labor statistics, a police officer costs at least $55,000 a year. We have five elementary schools in Austin counting Pacelli’s (LaPierre doesn’t say if parochial kids get armed guards — let’s assume they qualify for protection, as well). Three new, full-time cops can probably staff the five schools. This increases the annual budget for law enforcement by, at least, $175,000 in the city of Austin alone. At the expense of the general public? By no means. One presumes that the NRA will enthusiastically endorse a tax on the sale of the lethal playthings it thinks so vital to our freedoms to underwrite this army of additional police.

John S. Beckmann
Attorney at Law, Hoversten Johnson Beckmann & Hovey, LLP

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